Our world exists of huge sensory rainbow. Sound, odour, touch, flavour and sight information is information flow that allows us to percept a world. Additionally we can easy speak also about senses of sense of balance, pressure, temperature, pain, and motion. Historically description in words was primary tool for maintaining information about senses and my opinion is, odour information very difficult to express in words. Web (World.Wide Web) has given us more possibilities for expressing complexity of scent world. All other senses can of course be interpreted in written or spoken words.
Reading great literature from all around a world, authors many times express emotions trough scent descriptions, but do we really feel a truth about described sense? It is relatively easy to aw ake same reaction on sound, visual or touch influence. Scent and flavour depends so much on individual reaction, that we actually don’t know, what other people really sense. Scent is so close connected to emotions and emotional description refers more to scent as descriptions related to natural environment odours.
Translating complex odour into words is as artistic task as design of fragrances themselves. Complicated and intuitive web of expressions and its purpose must be built for at least understandable description. In testing of fragrances I have noticed very interesting moment, that perception of scent was connected with personality and mood of tester. Unfortunately I didn’t found much material about this issue (appreciate if somebody does have more information).
After rethinking hundreds of books read in last decades how It is interesting how wide is importance of scent in literature. Of course we should elevate the importance of Patrick Süskind novel Das Parfum. Die Geschichte eines Mörders where odour has so important role. Perfume and odour is very much used in literature, but do we really feel a scent behind author’s words? Another side is description of smells connected to everyday life, also very present by different authors. With many sensations described by them we never came in contact and must build our individual perception of author’s vision.
Another great issue is a vocabulary of scent expressions. Actually we all speak about basic, middle and high notes and hundreds of other industry characteristic words and phrases, but do we really know a scent behind them? Even in so simple definition of scent there are in different languages fine nuances, that can define absolute different expression about actual scent impression. For me as not native English speaker for instance smelling as description of using a nose for detection and on the other side “bad odour” is somewhat tricky.
Different story are marketing texts with its fantasy and emotion oriented approach. To name simplest case, who knows how “red rose” really smells! Or if you wish “white rose”! Not to mention highly promising illusion of perfume impact to your social environment. Sensation of scent is content to actual feeling of perfume, but is individually percept.
Talking about scent is never ending task for searching appropriate words and sentences. Its art of combining feelings and sensorial impressions with our ability of abstraction trough written material, maybe combined with other tools of expression. Maybe Web is ideal environment for effective combination of word and other kinds of expression as visual, sound and maybe in future also touches. At a moment we can only dream about times when question of odour will be answered with simple synthesised communication with my tablet or computer connected to my brain.
Before that happens we should research any possibility to exhaust full potential of many creative opportunities for presentation of scent. We should research and use every tool for presentation of great emotional power of scent (bad and pleasant) to widen our horizons!